Los Angeles County police officers arrived at the home of 60-year-old Manuel Fernandez early Thursday with a search warrant after receiving a tip from a neighbor that he had “a large number of guns” in his home. Upon searching his Agua Dulce, California home, officers found rifles, shotguns, and handguns totaling 432. A second warrant was served to allow them to search the home of a woman suspected to be involved in Fernandez’s purchases according to ABC News. That search resulted in the discovery of 30 illegal firearms. The woman was not home during the search and has yet to be located. She may face charges in the future.
Another search at the rural home of Fernandez Friday resulted in police finding 91 more weapons. In total, 553 firearms were seized. A photo of all the weapons that were recovered shows at least 57 handguns and several rows of rifles. Police also seized computers, cellphones, and hard drives from the home. It’s believed that Manuel used these items to acquire the guns.
In February of 2017, Manuel Fernandez was found guilty of an unspecified felony and was sentenced to 486 days in jail. He served only a few months of that sentence, however, and was released in August. As a convicted felon, Fernandez is forbidden from possessing a gun. Police arrested him on four charges – being a felon in possession of firearms, possession of an assault rifle, a felon in possession of ammunition and possession of large capacity magazines. Bail was set at $35,000. It was paid Friday, and Manuel is scheduled to appear in court in July.
Due to the large number of items retrieved by police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been brought in to help trace the origins of the weapons. Some of the firearms are decades old. It’s suspected that Fernandez is a gun collector and that he was not building an arsenal with the intent to use them in a violent manner.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell noted spoke of the positive outcome of the tip from a neighbor.
“The case is a testament to the community’s involvement in reducing crime and taking guns out of the hands of criminals… The swift response of our Palmdale Sheriff’s Station personnel and the assistance provided by our partners at the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms showed the positive result of our campaign ‘See Something, Say Something.'”